The transformation of the working environment is gaining further momentum. Increasing workplace digitisation and certain demographic trends have created new challenges, but also new opportunities. Companies are facing these processes actively by investing more money in sustaining their employees’ working capacities and also in humane working conditions and routines. These are the core messages that can be derived from the development of the trade fair and from the high level of interest among exhibitors and visitors at A+A 2015.
The 30th A+A in Düsseldorf, which ran for four days (27-30 October), comprised 1,887 exhibitors from 57 countries and provided information for more than 65,000 visitors (2013: 63,000) seeking to learn about the latest trends in occupational health and safety, health promotion at work and safety and security management. This is a new record in the history of this event. 30% of all visitors were internationals, clearly indicating an increase since the last event. They came from 80 countries.
“As before, A+A has reached record numbers of exhibitors and visitors, thus reconfirming its position as a global leader among trade fairs and conventions on occupational health and safety. It is providing major stimuli on the market and in the political debate, both in Europe and beyond. It was also helpful to have so many activities in connection with this year’s partner country, South Korea,” says Joachim Schäfer, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf, as he sums up numerous talks with exhibitors and international delegations as well as the consistently positive responses and the good atmosphere in the exhibition halls.
The international A+A convention, run by the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi) featured a wide range of topics and was attended by over 5,000 delegates. It ran in parallel with the conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Social Security Organisation (ISSA) with its line-up of high-calibre speakers.
On the opening day considerable attention was attracted by Andrea Nahles, the German Minister for Employment and Social Affairs. In her speech at A+A 2015 she focused, in particular, on the importance of preventative healthcare in the changing world of labour and said that a flexible compromise was needed: “When we talk about the future of the workplace, we must always include occupational health and safety. The digitisation of the workplace offers a large number of opportunities. Companies can boost their productivity, and employees can achieve better working condition and more flexible working hours. However, there are also risks. Performance optimisation, pressure of time, sensory overload and continuous availability can cause mental stress.”
A+A Trend Barometer – good momentum for exhibitors
A+A exhibitors took the opportunity to present the entire bandwidth of products and services in personal protection and in the realisation of safe and healthy working routines.
Klaus Bornack, President of the Trade Fair Committee and Managing Director of Bornack GmbH & Co. KG, believes that the industry is in a good position. He is looking forward to the new business arising from A+A: “A+A has given us some good momentum. The exhibition halls were consistently well frequented on each of the trade fair days and attracted a highly skilled audience. Moreover, the support programme delivered further important stimuli with new highlights, such as the special show on ‘Safe Rescue Operations from Heights and Depths’.”
Visitors were keen to invest and were very much interested in high-quality personal protection equipment and clothing. This was confirmed by a study on the German PPE market, submitted at A+A 2015 by the market research company macrom. According to the study, the market volume has again increased by over 4% in sectors where PPE is particularly vital, such as construction and manufacturing, reaching a total of EUR 1.8 billion over the last two years – and indeed despite stagnating payroll figures. This is about one tenth of the world’s entire market volume.
Product highlights at A+A 2015 included, for instance, gas warning systems that combine gas detectors, tracking functions and software applications. The gas status can now be visualised anywhere and at any time within a company’s premises.
When it comes to PPE items for specific parts of the body, protective clothing and workwear (with its current emphasis on corporate fashion), there is a clear trend to add an emotive appeal to the relevant messages. Modern workwear needs to look cool and is becoming more and more similar to fashionable outdoor clothing, both in shape and colour. Nevertheless, functional aspects do of course continue to be vital. Thanks to modern high-tech textiles and materials, for instance, emergency response staff can wear special protective clothing that is extremely heat-resistant and at the same time also breathable and water-repellent.